Reenacting the Reconquista Myth? Some Reflections on Moros y Cristianos Festivals in Spain

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Abstract

Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) is a Spanish festival, particularly popular in Valencia and Andalusia regions, that recreates different local episodes related to the so-called Reconquista –the historical period spanning from the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula at the beginning of the 8th century until the takeover of the Emirate of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492. With a long and entangled history, and characterized by a carnivalesque and ludic atmosphere, these festivals are popular annual dramatisations of a battle between good and evil, heroes and villains. Drawing on Paul Connerton’s bodily approach to collective memory, this chapter sets out to analyse Moros y Cristianos as a performative version of the reconquista master narrative and the degree to which this celebration contributes towards reinforcing a Spanish national identity in opposition to the Muslim other. Along these lines, we also analyse Moros y Cristianos vis-à-vis traditional ritual performances, based on a continuity with the past, and modern historical reenactments, where authenticity stands as a key element in the simulation of the past qua past. The chapter concludes by highlighting the importance of commemorative celebrations, like Moros y Cristianos, not only for the study of collective memory –in its affective and performative dimension– but also as a case study from which to analyse and rethink modern historical reenactments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistorical Reenactment : New ways of experiencing history
EditorsMario Carretero, Brady Wagoner, Everardo Perez-Manjarrez
PublisherBerghahn Books
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Moros y Cristianos, reconquista, master narratives, reenactment, rituals

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